City of Abbotsford ceases contract with Abbotsford Heat hockey team

AHL Abbotsford Heat

The City of Abbotsford will be terminating its contract with the AHL Abbotsford Heat hockey team.

Global BC reports that a formal announcement will be made Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. during a press conference.

Limited details are available at this time; it is not known whether the a new contract will be signed or the team will be relocated, Global BC reported.

The team has been a financial drain on the municipality since it relocated to Abbotsford in the 2009-2010 season after a two year stint at Moline, Illinois. The City of Abbotsford signed a ten year contract with the team to cover any shortfalls beyond its annual guaranteed revenues of $5.7 million.

However, the team has failed to break even with Abbotsford taxpayers bailing out the franchise on an annual basis ever since the inaugural year. Abbotsford provided the Heat with $450,000 in the 2000-2010 season, $1.37 million in 2010-2011, and $1.76 million in 2011-2012.

Receding game attendance has been the source of the team’s financial hardships. The average attendance last season was 3,778 fans per game at the 2007-built, $64.7 million City-owned Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre. During the 2012-2013 season, average game attendance was less than 2,500, placing the team dead last in the 30 franchise league.

Attendance issues could lie with the team’s designation as a farm team of the NHL Calgary Flames, a rival team of the Vancouver Canucks, and the Fraser Valley’s relatively small and rural population to support such a business.

In addition to subsidizing the Heat’s operational costs, taxpayers are also responsible for about $2 million in annual hockey arena maintenance subsidies.


Featured Image: Abbotsford Heat


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